"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine." (Isaiah 55:8 NLT)
One, there is something wondrous about life; something beautiful and worth having.
However, life is sometimes painful and hard to figure out. It can leave us scratching our heads.
reading this, you have life. Maybe you have lived long enough
to realize that this simple four letter word, L-I-F-E, is not so simple.
I sat down today and happened to skim through the pages of my son's world history book and realized that mans history has a common thread running throughout the annals of time . . . conflict!
Conflict handled inappropriately has caused dissension and strife in the lives of people throughout the ages.
Conflict is not necessarily a bad thing and can even be healthy if handled properly and with respect.
Today I was
reminded of the Disciples. These were twelve ordinary men who experienced extraordinary things while walking with Jesus. But, walking with Jesus probably produced more
conflict than one would like to admit or experience.
The Disciples were not 'religious' men. We're talking about ordinary men like Peter, a fishermen, Matthew, the ancient counterpart of today's IRS (Internal Revenue Service) agent, and Dr.Luke. Can you imagine the
conflict they dealt with? I know we like to think that the they were special, but they weren't. The only thing
special about them was the One with whom they kept company, Jesus.
Let's look at Peter. He
was your average, hardworking, sailor type. Imagine an obscure man walking up to him saying,"Come, follow me, I'll make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19 NIV). What in the world did that mean to men who, at the time, had no clue who Jesus was? Some guy out of nowhere comes
walking up to a fisherman and says, "Follow me". That must have been a little strange even for those days!
about Matthew? He was collecting debts from
people who owed but didn't want to or could not pay. Matthew probably would have loved the use of a phone back then, but he probably would have been avoided with the use of caller ID! Imagine the conflict he experienced after hanging around with Jesus and Jesus sent Peter to collect money out of a fishes' mouth!That is odd no matter what culture or time period one lives in.
Let us not forget Dr. Luke who dedicated his life to the study of medicine and helping people recover from illnesses. Yet, Jesus heals a centurion's daughter because of the soldiers faith! That would cause conflict in anyone's understanding!
Sometimes we forget that Gods' ways are higher than our ways. He waited three days while Lazarus lay dying before going to him. He went into the Gentile territory of Samaria. He sent the Disciples ahead of
him to face a stormy sea, while He stayed behind. He washed the Disciples feet the
night He was betrayed. He told Peter beforehand, that he would deny
him on the night of His crucifixion. Everything Jesus did had a purpose.
In reality, none of these things made any sense. Why wait
three whole days before going to his dying friend Lazarus? Because, Jesus
knew that according to Jewish beliefs, a person was not
believed dead until the fourth day after he or she died.When Jesus raised his friend from the dead, He wanted to remove all doubt in anyone's mind as to what God could do! When He sent the Disciples ahead of him on a
boat in the middle of the night, Jesus was aware of the stormy forecast. He wanted toteach them that God can reach them in the darkest
of storms. And, when God shows up in a storm of conflict, we may not always recognize him.
Why go through Samaria? In those days, Jews hated Samaritans. But Jesus went out of his way, to search out a shamed Samaritan woman. Why? Because he knew that particular
woman would be the
perfect person to "go and tell" others about God! Jesus was also showing us that our past does not negate all that God has decreed for our future. Why
would the King of King and Lord of Lords bend down and wash twelve dirty
feet?. . . to teach his friends that the lower you go, the higher you actually stand!
Then there's the man of the hour, Peter. Why did Jesus bother to tell him he
would deny him? Because, God wanted Peter to know He's got our back, even when we turn ours! God
cares about our mistakes and wants us to recover from them.
life a with God produces conflict. He takes our earthly understanding and
completely smashes it into pieces. Then when we are poured out of
ourselves, He has room enough to fill us with himself.
Beautiful One, life is full of conflict and being a
Christian will produce conflict. But, the good news is that conflict of the God kind is the best kind.